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Spring ice fishing carries some risks

Joe Roberts of Osage holds up an odd catch on one of the season's final ice fishing trips, a white sucker that decided to eat a jigging spoon. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

When you spend numerous hours on the water, whether it's frozen solid or in flowing form, strange things are bound to happen.

In the past I've shared some of the odd occurrences that have taken place in the boat, but last weekend the ice provided some unheard of experiences.

As the sun shone bright on Sunday afternoon, locals Joe Roberts and Mike Marjama shared an afternoon with me on Lake Emma.

The 78-acre pond should have been no match for us, since with the spring temperatures we should've had an action filled afternoon of catching nice crappies, bluegill and the occasional perch.

After hammering out hundreds of holes, we had hardly caught a fish. That is until Joe's rod bent over and a battle ensued. I knelt next to his hole as Joe's line remained tight against a fish much larger than the anticipated panfish.

The prediction was a bass, northern or even a rogue walleye. Since Joe had a Northland Forage Minnow Jigging Spoon tied on to lure in a slab crappie, we figured one of the aforementioned larger gamefish may have inadvertently latched on.

Both of us watched in amazement as a white sucker emerged from the bottom of the hole. Now, this can happen every so often when a sucker comes too close to the jumping and shaking spoon, accidentally hooking itself beneath the jaw or on the side of the mouth.

But this sucker must've been hungry because it actually tried to eat the spoon, which was fully inside of its mouth upon close examination.

A sucker on a jigging spoon; who would've thought such an anomaly would've occurred that day.

But we had plenty of additional daylight to burn.

After finally finding some active bluegill and crappie, though few were of respectable size, we decided to head in since the sun had already dipped below the tree line.

An easy fifty-yard walk to shore should've been easy, but as Mike walked toward a well-worn ATV path, I shouted ahead to him.

"You need to walk around this spot, there's open water ahead".

Instead, Mike headed most of the way around the narrow, open channel and jumped the three feet across the open area. Joe followed suit and I decide I could too.

But as my boot hit the slippery edge of the far side, it slid back toward me and in a split second, I was neck-deep, treading water.

Since the gap was so narrow, I reached out to either side of the ice and easily pushed myself out, even though Joe slid on his stomach with an outstretched hand to lend assistance.

Simply put, it was a poor choice on my behalf to jump across the open water. I could've spent an extra 45-seconds walking around it but choose not to. Fortunately everything turned out alright in the end.

After a gorgeous day on the lake, the result was less than stellar; a few bluegills, a sucker and a wet angler.